Endicott has had a lot to celebrate already this season sitting atop the CCC and undefeated in league play but face a ranked Curry squad this weekend in a home-and-home series (Photo by Endicott Athletics)

Yes, there are still three unbeatens in conference play (Endicott, Plymouth State & Utica) in the east and all face some stiff competition this weekend which should be exciting for fans everywhere looking for the upset bug to continue its presence in all D-III hockey. Last week’s picks improved slightly at 8-3-1 (.708) which brings my season total to  84-40-9 (.665). Starting a day earlier with a Tuesday night pick and making it a Baker’s Dozen to push for the elusive 70% success rate overall. Here are this week’s prognostications with some key conference battles on tap:

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

(15) Wesleyan v. Albertus Magnus

The battles amongst Connecticut-based D-III teams this year have been extremely entertaining and while the Falcons did not like being on the short-end of an 8-2 loss to the Cardinals back in November, home ice only keeps the score closer in a second defeat to the NESCAC team – Wesleyan, 4-3

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Worcester State v. Fitchburg State

The Lancers have situated themselves in second place in MASCAC so far in the season and look to keep their nearest rival still looking up in the standings. This is the time of year when Dean Fuller’s squad picks up their game and they need a bounce back after a shutout loss to Westfield State – Fitchburg State, 4-3

Friday, January 27, 2023

(3) Endicott v. (6) Curry

This weekend series between the top two teams in the CCC should be a lot of fun to watch. Both teams have deep rosters and can score in bunches but will be challenged by the strength of this week’s opponent’s defense and goaltending. Series has a playoff feel and the Gulls draw first blood with a big road win on Friday night – Endicott, 2-1

Massachusetts-Boston v. (2) Hobart

The Beacons have shined brightly since winning the Codfish Bowl to close out 2022. They have played everyone in the NEHC tough and took down Babson last weekend. Bigger challenge against the Statesmen with Coach Taylor, Luke Aquaro and Cooper Swift back from the WUG tournament. It’s close with a late goal deciding it for the home team – Hobart, 3-2

Connecticut College v. Middlebury

The Panthers have been playing better hockey and getting some positive results. Don’t think they need a lot of extra motivation this weekend as the school celebrates 100 years of hockey with alumni showing up in force to cheer on this year’s edition of Middlebury hockey. The Camels keep it close, but Jake Horoho makes one more save for the Panthers who kick off the weekend festivities with a win – Middlebury, 3-2

Anna Maria v. Canton

The Kangaroos have made it tough for all who venture to their rink and Anna Maria will be no exception when the two independents face off on Friday night. Look for special teams to figure prominently in the outcome as the home team ekes out a win – Canton, 4-3

St. Michael’s v. Southern New Hampshire  

The Purple Knights have won three of their last four games in NE-10 play but face a SNHU team that is really desperate to get a win streak going and move up in the conference standings. St. Michael’s best stay out of the penalty box or the Penmen will make them pay with a deadly power play. A PPG is the difference here – SNHU, 5-4

Cortland v. (10) Oswego

Goaltender Luca Durante almost stole a win for the Red Dragons against Plattsburgh, and nothing would help their cause more in the standings than knocking off the league leaders on the road. Tough ask of any team against Oswego who need to score first and do to put pressure on the visitors – Oswego, 3-2

Nazareth v. (1) Utica

The Golden Flyers do not have to travel much in the second half playing the majority of their UCHC games at home. This weekend is one of the exceptions and they will see how they stack up against the undefeated Pioneers. It’s a close game that may need some extra time to decide with the home team surviving – Utica, 3-2

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Skidmore v. (14) Babson

A re-match of the NEHC championship game, this one figures to be fast, close-checking and with goals at a premium due to excellent goaltending on both sides. The Beavers need to get it going and home ice is worth a goal in the one-goal win over the Thoroughbreds – Babson, 2-1

(13) Plymouth State v. Fitchburg State

If the Falcons want a statement game, this one is it. Beat the first place team at home and show what you can do if the playoffs bring a re-match. The Panthers have been very consistent all season and find a way to take a key road win and remain unbeaten in MASCAC play – PSU, 4-3

Amherst v. Trinity

The top team travels to face the hottest team in NESCAC. Sounds like a recipe for some exciting hockey action with all the makings of a playoff game. If the game were at Amherst I would go with the Mammoths but have to stick with the red-hot Bantams who have been finding ways to win during their eight game win streak – Trinity, 3-2

(11) Plattsburgh v. (10) Geneseo

The two teams played a 2-2 tie earlier this year at Plattsburgh and the Knights need the win if they want to have a chance at catching Oswego. For that matter both teams need the points and there will be no tie this time around. Welcome back Peter Morgan – Geneseo, 4-3

Wow, as if there haven’t been enough startling results, the matchups this weekend and likely for the remainder of the regular season are going to create more chaos in the standings and the polls. Must see hockey on tap – “Drop the Puck!”

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